Our House/Cat sit assignment in Bangkok has come to an end. It was just shy of 6 weeks looking after a couple of tabby’s Susie and Simba.
There are so many advantages of staying put in one place when you are long term travelling. It means free accommodation in lieu of caring for someone’s home and pets.
Because of our location in Bangkok, we hardly saw any Westerners. The locals only spoke limited English so it was imperative that I could speak very basic Thai.
This resulted in more than a few puzzled looks from our lovely street vendors and tuk tuk drivers. However, by the time our stay ended I could give directions to our house completely in Thai. This included ordering dinner (without offal included) and our favourite ice coffees. Most of the important things were covered.
Time to Plan Our Next Move
Our travel itinerary is dictated by our House/Pet Sit assignments. We had a couple of weeks off before we were due in Singapore for the start of our next one.
We were also restricted to Visa conditions. Our tourist visa was for 2 months so our deadline was the 20 August to leave Thailand.
Anyone who knows Scotty, knows about his passion for war history. He is a walking encyclopaedia when it comes to retaining details on all things relating to war.
We grabbed this opportunity to make Hellfire Pass and Death Railway our next destination. We previously did the day trip from Bangkok to the Bridge over the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi.
There was no way that this trip a few years ago was ever going to satisfy our interest in this area. Tour companies take you from Bangkok and include other stops such as the Floating, Flower Markets and an Elephant Park. Your time is limited when stopping at Bridge Over the River Kwai.
We briefly walked the famous bridge and made a fleeting visit to the museum and cemetery at Kanchanaburi. This left us wanting to return and really see this historic area at our own pace. We wanted to understand what went on in the area 70 years ago.
Bangkok to Nam Tok By 3rd Class Train
We always plan our departure for the day after our hosts return home after our house/pet sit. This allows for any delay in flights or travel in general.
Because of this, we decided to book an additional night in Bangkok prior to our train trip to Nam Tok.
We booked into Tiny Hostel, a private room with a shared bathroom and AC. It was certainly basic but the bonus was that it wasn’t far from Thonburi Station and was only 600THB ($24nz). It was clean and quiet and perfect for one night.
Knowing what Bangkok traffic is like, we weren’t taking any chances and with a train departure time of 7.50am, we were ready for our GrabCar at 6.30am.
It was a great trip to the station and we were there with an hour to spare. With tickets purchased 100THB ($4.09nz) each, we headed across the road for some breakfast.
Thonburi is a busy station with a lot of commuter trains coming and going. Unfortunately for us, it was a Saturday which meant that there were a lot of passengers, particularly locals that travel to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok for a day trip.
No reservation is necessary, they cannot sell out, just turn up, buy a ticket and hop on any time before it leaves.
Although the trains are 3rd class, don’t let this put you off as they have padded seats and are generally clean. There is something about sitting by an open window with the wind in your face, taking in the Thai countryside is quite relaxing and a great way to reach your destination.
There is also a tourist day excursion train that runs in the weekends. If you need to find out more information, we use Man in Seat 61 to get all our information on train travel.
We positioned ourselves on the platform and waited for the train to arrive. Our research told us that we needed to get on the left hand side of the train for the best views of viaduct crossings between Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok. Well despite the fact we were there so early, Murphy’s Law always knows better. The train pulled in and there is one carriage on the train which is what I would describe as a cattle car. No windows and wooden seats that run the length of the carriage each side. Well, you guessed it, this carriage stopped directly in front of us!!
We high-tailed it down to the next available carriage but had to line up with the rest of the passengers. By the time we got on with our packs, all the seats had been taken on the left and we had to sit on the right, but at least we had padded seats and were sitting together.
Where is Nam Tok?
We chose to stay at Nam Tok (often referred to as SaiYok Noi) for a couple of nights (which we extended to 4) because of it’s close proximity to Hellfire Pass (more on this visit in my next blog).
It is located further up the Death Railway from Kanchanaburi and is the end of the line (around an extra 1.5hr travel time). Total travel time from Bangkok should be approximately 4.5 hours (and I use the term approximately loosely!). Our arrival time of 12.30 soon turned into 1.30pm but oh well, this is Thailand. We travelled a total of just over 200kms from Bangkok.
We booked our accommodation at Yayei Homestay through bookings.com. We loved staying here and we would fully recommend that you stay here if you are keen to visit this area. They were faultless in their service, right from our complimentary pick up at the train station to their helpfulness when it came to planning our days activities and can I mention THE FOOD.
Now we are street foodie fans through and through but the ladies in the kitchen here are outstanding cooks. The prices are very reasonable as we don’t usually eat at our accommodation as it is always cheaper sitting on a footpath somewhere down the road. Not the case here at all. Dinner prices range from 45THB ($1.84nz) to 65THB ($2.66). The flavours are as authentic as any that we have tasted, fresh and full of all the herbs and spices.
They have scooters for hire which we made use of for 300THB ($12nz) per day. I have included a photo of the prices that would need to pay to visit some of the local attractions via taxi. As you can see, we have saved ourselves a great deal of money per day by hiring a scooter to get around.
I understand that this would not be for everyone. You need to be prepared to work the transport into your costs of staying here as everything is quite spread out so transport costs are an essential part of your stay.
We have hired scooters a few times on our travels. We will not ride scooters in highly populated city’s and only where there are good roads with a limited amount of traffic on the road. Another factor we take into account is the amount of tourists in the area. We have witnessed some horrific riding by tourists on scooters and do not want to be on the road where there are a large number of them riding.
We just like to take our time and certainly do not break any speed records.
We have managed to fill in our days here in Nam Tok. Each of our outings will be covered in separate blogs. These include our visit to Hellfire Pass and Death Railway and our day tripping around on our trusty scooter.
Highlights so far in our video link below.